Travel literature is a broad and hybrid genre that encompasses all texts focusing on the trajectory of a protagonist, outdoor literature, nature writing, and travel-related memoirs.
Travel is going from one place to another for people between distant geographical locations, and it is a source of pleasure. It provides a new atmosphere, but it is also quite challenging for travelers to adapt to new surroundings. It includes many aspects such as discovering new lands, making new friends, and learning about different cultures, their customs, traditions, lifestyles, and foods.
Later, travelers started narrating and recording their travel experiences as books, journals, guides, and travelogues, and so travel writing became a celebrated genre of contemporary culture.
Travel literature is travel writing of the non-fiction type. It is about the traveler, which includes not only travelogues and novels but also exploration reports, guides, and so on. It is a bit more restrictive in that it includes texts that belong to literature.
Travel literature in the 21st century:
As social media is rapidly growing, the impact of travel narratives and journals diminishes. The forms and concepts of travel writing have changed. The travel writer focuses more on travel modes, trends, and his inner exploration.
Bill Bryson uses the first person “I” to describe the travel experience. Bryson describes the people in his hometown of Des Moines. The scale of the Grand Canyon is almost beyond comprehension. It is ten miles across, a mile deep, and 180 miles long (Page 303). Bryson mentions the trip to the Grand Canyon.
Paul Theroux’s “Dark Star Safari” book is about his trip from Cairo to Cape Town. Theroux covers the length of Africa by train, bus, truck, and armed convoy. “Africa is materially more decrepit than it was when I first knew it,” Theroux writes. This trip is more of a discovery and a sentimental journey for the writer.
Types of Travel Writing:
- Travelogues: The travelers records their individual experience of what the traveler witness, hears, smells, feels, thoughts, and emotions in the external world. The word “travelogue” is a combination of two words: travel and monologue. It is told in the past tense and in the first person.
Freya Stark’s “A Winter in Arabia” recounts her travels in Arabia as the first woman to take a journey to Yemen. “A Winter in Arabia” is one of the significant works in literature that gained her a great reputation in the writers’ circle. She beautifully narrates the rich culture and customs of the tribes. She mentions the Arabian land as “nakedness clothed with the shreds of departed splendor.”
- Travel Memoirs: Travel memoirs are a collection of recollections and reflections on significant memories and locations. It is a written document of the writer’s travel experience and the awakening of the inner soul and emotions.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia’. The strength of Gilbert’s writing kept the book on the New York Times best seller list for 187 weeks straight. After an unsuccessful marriage, Gilbert took a trip all over the world, and the trip resulted in a notable travel memoir.
- Destination Articles: Destination articles are about promoting a place with a broad narrative, describing every nook and cranny of the place and pointing out the famous foods, hotels, and natural scenery.
Kenneth R. Rosen’s “36 Hours in the Finger Lakes Region of New York,” published in the New York Times, remarks about the beautiful sights of New York with historic treasures and describes the lakes, mountains, and parks.
- Travel and Lifestyle Blogging: Travel blogging is the sharing of travel experiences on an online travel journey. Lifestyle bloggers create content and keep their followers up to date on their personal interests and lifestyles.
Johnny Ward, who is an Irish entrepreneur and travel blogger, He began earning a living by traveling to every country on the planet. His blogs are some of the world’s leading travel blogs.
- Guide Books: A traveling guide provides visitors with general information about a location.
Alain de Botton’s “The Art of Travel,” Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist,” and Herge’s “The Adventures of Tintin” are some of the travel guides that describe the aspects and adventures of travel.